Linda Hutcheon articulated, momentarily, the matter of music with literature that I have never been able to settle in my mind. Sections 28-33 talk about the way in which the literature is changed for the opera adaptation of Clarke’s Beatrice Chancy. She says that the language “was never sacrificed,” that the music “increases the impact of the literary text when performed.” (28) I do not agree. I am very passionate about music but I have a bias toward words. Her practical explanations for cuts and changes in the text are believable, however, the literature is shorted, the “power [does] get lost.” That is, the impact of the text is cut and the burden of impact is shared with the music. So the drama and impact as a whole are not lost, but again, the words lose substance and poetic strength. She gives the comparison of the two and my argument is in the lines:
“I’m perfumed, ruddied/ Carrion. Assassinated./Screams of mucking juncos scrawled/ Over the chapel and my nerves,”
” I’m perfumed, bleeding carrion,/ My eyes weep pus, my womb’s sopping/ With tears; I can hardly walk: the floors”
In the opera adaptation, the words “bleeding,” and “sopping” are not as impactful as “ruddied” or the image of the “mucking juncos.” I especially was thrown out by the use of “womb.” It is too literal and “sopping with tears,” is outright cliche. Still, I’m sure the music picked up the slack.
This has always been my pet peeve, although I haven’t convinced myself of its justification. I certainly do not think that music needs words, I just feel that often the poetry has opportunity to slack off. Think of the mountain of lyrical cliches in love songs, I do not ever expect progress there.
To bring it back to film, I am wondering if there is argument that music is doing the same to adaptations. Is it picking up the slack for film? Filling in for impact when the film struggles to adapt the impact of the text on screen? Music is arguably auditory poetry and maybe deserves more attention for its role creating impact in adaptations. Too clarify (maybe), I am struggling with the use of music as an excuse to slacken the writing in songs, operas, films, all of it. I also realize it may be a necessity. Maybe rich text with rich music equals mud?